15 arts organizations will join forces with OTSL and RAC to present a streamed concert in support of artists whose livelihoods have been directly impacted by COVID-19.

Together with 14 other arts organizations and the Regional Arts Commission (RAC), Opera Theatre of Saint Louis (OTSL) is proud to announce “Arts United STL,” a free virtual benefit in support of RAC’s Artist Relief Fund, which provides critical aid to St. Louis working artists whose livelihoods have been critically interrupted by the pandemic. Produced by OTSL in partnership with the St. Louis Shakespeare Festival, this benefit will take place at 7 p.m. on Sunday, May 31st and present performances from local arts organizations, including The Big Muddy Dance Company, The Black Rep, Circus Flora, COCA, Jazz St. Louis, The Muny, Opera Theatre of Saint Louis, Repertory Theatre of St. Louis, St. Louis Ballet, St. Louis Children’s Choirs, St. Louis Shakespeare Festival, St. Louis Symphony Orchestra, The Sheldon, STAGES St. Louis, the Tennessee Williams Festival St. Louis, and more. 

Arts United STL was first envisioned by OTSL General Director Andrew Jorgensen as a way for St. Louis’ established arts institutions to help support the community’s vibrant arts ecosystem. After an initial consultation between OTSL, RAC, and the St. Louis Shakespeare Festival, a consortium of 15 organizations was invited across an array of arts mediums. In the coming days, RAC will also encourage open submissions from independent artists and other arts organizations to further highlight the artistic diversity of the city. 

More information about Arts United STL can be found on Opera Theatre’s website at ExperienceOpera.org/ArtsUnited, which will also host the live video stream on Sunday, May 31st. In addition, viewers may watch the livestream via YouTube on Opera Theatre’s channel. Viewers will be encouraged to donate to the RAC Artist Relief Fund during the concert. To date, the Artist Relief Fund has distributed $136,500 in direct support to individual artists. The goal of Arts United STL is to raise an additional $250,000 through 1,000 individual donations and sponsorships. Supporters may donate to the Artist Relief Fund at ExperienceOpera.org/ArtsUnited at any time before, during, or after the live event.

The arts and culture sector is an important driver for the St. Louis economy. According to the 2015 Americans for the Arts Economic Prosperity 5 study commissioned by RAC, the nonprofit arts and culture sector generated $590.9 million and 19,129 full-time equivalent jobs for the greater St. Louis area during that same year. Since the start of the pandemic, based on research conducted by Americans for the Arts, 89% of St. Louis City and County arts institutions have canceled events that would have reached more than 285,000 individuals.

“This benefit represents an exciting and collaborative effort to respond to the global crisis affecting the arts and culture sector in our region,” said Mont Levy, chair of the board of commissioners at RAC. “As the major public funder of arts in the region with a mandate to support individual artists, we know it is RAC’s responsibility to provide emergency support during this time of great need. We could not be more grateful to Opera Theatre of Saint Louis for spearheading this event, or to the St. Louis Shakespeare Festival and every participating organization for their work to highlight the rich cultural tapestry of our region and support their fellow artists.”

The Regional Arts Commission of St. Louis is the largest annual funder of non-profit arts in the region, providing grants to individual artists, arts and culture organizations, and other programs since 1985. RAC established the Artist Relief Fund through the St. Louis Community Foundation on April 1st to help working artists who have lost income due to the pandemic. So far, the fund has distributed $500 and $1,000 grants to more than 130 artists and will resume accepting new relief applications once additional funds have been secured.

OTSL General Director Andrew Jorgensen says of the effort, “We are thrilled to be collaborating with so many other arts organizations to help local artists, whose work makes St. Louis an immeasurably vibrant, special place. OTSL couldn’t be happier to produce this concert in support of artists during these difficult times. This benefit will highlight a fantastic array of art from different genres that reflect the artistic diversity and traditions of this community. I am so grateful to all my many colleagues who are uniting in this remarkable way to support one another and our entire arts ecosystem.”

All participating organizations are donating their time, with production costs and staffing needs covered by Opera Theatre of Saint Louis, additional staffing needs covered by St. Louis Shakespeare Festival, and an in-kind donation from Switch. The program will be directed by St. Louis Shakespeare Festival Artistic Director Tom Ridgely. Arts United STL is produced in partnership with the Regional Arts Commission, and the following arts partners: The Big Muddy Dance Company, The Black Rep, Circus Flora, COCA, Jazz St. Louis, The Muny, Opera Theatre of Saint Louis, Repertory Theatre of St. Louis, St. Louis Ballet, St. Louis Children’s Choirs, St. Louis Shakespeare Festival, St. Louis Symphony Orchestra, The Sheldon, STAGES St. Louis, and the Tennessee Williams Festival St. Louis.

Here is the HEC featurette piece: https://youtu.be/Upzz841hHX4

# #

About Regional Arts Commission

The Regional Arts Commission of St. Louis (RAC) supports artists and arts organizations through grantmaking, strategic initiatives and other programs that build capacity, improve quality and advance diversity, equity and inclusion within the region’s arts and culture sector. Celebrating its 35th anniversary in 2020, RAC has been pivotal in nurturing the vibrant art scene throughout St. Louis, awarding more than 7,000 grants totaling over $100 million since its inception in 1985. Directed by a board of 15 commissioners appointed by the chief executives of St. Louis City and St. Louis County,  RAC prioritizes quality in its support of nonprofit arts organizations, individual artists, and programs and promotes partnerships that strengthen the sector and drive progress throughout the region. RAC receives its funding from hotel/motel room sales tax revenue from St. Louis City and County. Visit www.racstl.org for more information, or follow us on Facebook at Regional Arts Commission or Twitter @RACStLouis.

Andrew Jorgensen, general director of Opera Theatre, announced the cancellation of the 2020 festival season that was to open May 23 and run through June 28 with this repertory: the world premiere of Tobias Picker and Aryeh Lev Stollman’s Awakenings, Bizet’s gripping opera Carmen, Strauss’ effervescent comedy Die Fledermaus, and the long-awaited company premiere of Carlisle Floyd’s Susannah

Here is his April 7 announcement:

I hope that you and your loved ones are safe and healthy. Normally at the beginning of spring in St. Louis, we are bustling with activity to prepare for Opera Theatre’s festival season — building sets, sewing costumes, and preparing to start rehearsals. Unfortunately, that is not the case today. Like you, we have been following the news of COVID-19 and taking appropriate precautions. It is now with great regret that we are forced to cancel Opera Theatre’s 2020 Festival Season.

Until recently, I held out hope that we might adapt our festival season and still produce opera in June. However, it has become clear that it is no longer possible to present our festival. More importantly, it would not be safe to convene hundreds of artists, staff, and audience members night after night — we must all do our part to flatten the curve. 

This is difficult news to share. This crisis has had a devastating impact on so many, including the artists and artisans who rely upon companies like ours for their livelihoods. Thanks to the unwavering support of our Board of Directors, we have made the commitment to honor 50% of the expected income for each of the 380 seasonal members of our company — including singers, artisans, production crew and staff, front of house staff, administrative interns, and our partner, the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra — and will retain 100% of our year-round staff.

We are heartbroken that we won’t be able to share a season with you this year, but now we are asking for your help. Though we know this is a difficult time for organizations and individuals alike, by choosing to convert your 2020 season ticket purchase into a tax-deductible donation, you will ensure OTSL continues to support our artists and artisans now and in the future. You may also choose to convert your purchase into a credit for the 2021 Festival Season or request a partial or full refund. Credit or refund requests must be made by June 30, 2020; any remaining tickets that are undesignated on July 1 will be automatically converted into a tax-deductible donation.
 
If you choose to donate your ticket, every dollar of your donation will be matched up to $500,000, thanks to a special challenge effort led by members of the Board of Directors. I am making a personal commitment to this campaign with a 50% voluntary pay cut through the end of Opera Theatre’s fiscal year. I hope you will join us — your generosity will have twice the impact and will make a real difference for our artistic family. 

In accordance with national guidelines, our Box Office is working remotely through at least the end of April. To expedite your ticket request, please consider filling out the online form below to record your choice between a donation, credit, or refund. You may also contact the Box Office at [email protected] or (314) 961-0644 and leave a message — our staff will return your message as soon as they are able. Thank you in advance for your patience and understanding as it may take us longer than usual to process ticket requests. 

DONATE, CREDIT, OR REFUND YOUR 2020 SEASON TICKETS

Our community will emerge from this crisis, and when we do so, shared artistic experiences will be more powerful than ever. Today, I promise you that we will return to creating art as soon as it is safe to do so. We are already hard at work on our 2021 Festival Season, which will be announced by early fall. Thanks to forty-five years of your generosity and guidance, Opera Theatre is a resilient organization. We have never believed more strongly in our mission, and we look forward to the day when we can once again bring people together through the power and beauty of live opera. 

Thank you for your understanding. Your support and passion make all of our work possible. Until we meet again, I wish you good health and spirits

Opera Theatre’s Artists-in-Training Program continues with the partnership of Bayer Fund

Opera Theatre of Saint Louis’ Monsanto Artists-in-Training Program, recognized as a flagship arts education program in the U.S. for more than 29 years, will be renamed the Bayer Fund Artists-in-Training Program in recognition of the company’s generous investment.

Since its inception in 1990, Monsanto Fund has provided support for the Artists-in-Training Program, with more than $500,000 in scholarships awarded to over 240 students. It has helped launch the careers of celebrated singers, including Julia Bullock, Jermaine Smith, and Derrell Acon.

Opera Theatre gratefully acknowledges Monsanto Fund for its visionary and steadfast investment in the Artists-in-Training Program and is honored to now partner with Bayer Fund, which has provided leadership support to continue this important work.

“Bayer Fund is honored to continue the many years of ongoing support for the Artists-inTraining Program,” said Al Mitchell, Bayer’s Vice President of Community Engagement. “This program has positively impacted the lives of a large number of St. Louis students, and we look forward to seeing this success continue.”

“We are so grateful for the support Monsanto Fund has provided over the past 29 years,” said Opera Theatre of Saint Louis General Director Andrew Jorgensen. “I look forward to continuing the work of identifying and nurturing rising artists in the St. Louis community in partnership with Bayer Fund.”

The Annual Spring Recital for Bayer Fund Artists-in-Training will be held on Sunday, April 14 at 3 p.m. at the Sheldon Concert Hall, 3648 Washington Boulevard. This event is the culmination program of a year’s study for these talented young singers, and approximately $12,000 in scholarships will be awarded based on their performances.

The 2019 Bayer Fund Artists-in-Training Program provides year-long college-level vocal training to 24 high school students from across the St. Louis region, as well as week-long master classes with major artists from across the country.

In the week leading up to the recital, these students will train with internationally renowned bass Morris Robinson. Morris Robinson is considered one of the most interesting and sought-after basses performing today. Mr. Robinson regularly appears at the Metropolitan Opera, where he is a graduate of the Lindemann Young Artist Program. He made his debut there in a production of Fidelio and has since appeared as Sarastro in Die Zauberflöte, Ferrando in Il Trovatore, the King in Aida, and in roles in Nabucco, Tannhäuser, Les Troyens, and Salome. He has also appeared at such prestigious venues as the San Francisco Opera, Lyric Opera of Chicago, and Teatro alla Scala, among others.

Established in 1990, Opera Theatre’s Bayer Fund Artists-in-Training Program sets out to identify, coach, and encourage talented students from high schools across the St. Louis area with weekly voice lessons by opera professionals at one of the four area universities.

The year-long program also offers master classes with visiting artists, awards more than $25,000 annually in scholarships, provides college tours of vocal programs from select universities and conservatories, and offers college guidance to high school graduates.

The Bayer Fund Artists-inTraining Program has been recognized by the President’s Committee for the Arts and the Humanities as one of ten model U.S. programs for at-risk youth. About Opera Theatre of Saint Louis Opera Theatre of Saint Louis is a spring festival featuring casts of the opera world’s most exciting singers accompanied by the acclaimed St. Louis Symphony Orchestra.

Each season, OTSL presents four inventive new productions in English during the months of May and June. In addition to presenting innovative interpretation of classics, OTSL is also committed to premiering new and relevant operas by prominent composers; since its inaugural season in 1976, 27 operas have premiered at Opera Theatre. Andrew Jorgensen began his tenure as general director in 2018, and James Robinson serves as artistic director.

Opera Theatre’s competitive young artist programs foster the next generation of emerging American singers; these programs have been a springboard for an exceptional number of extraordinary artists in launching international careers.

Opera Theatre of Saint Louis is funded in part by the Regional Arts Commission, Arts and Education Council, National Endowment for the Arts, and the Missouri Arts Council, with audience-building programs supported by The Wallace Foundation. Opera Theatre gratefully acknowledges Webster University for its sustaining partnership.

About Bayer Fund Bayer Fund is a nonprofit organization dedicated to strengthening the communities where Bayer customers and employees live and work by providing funding for food and nutrition, education and community development projects.

Opera Theatre of Saint Louis announced preliminary results of the 2018 fiscal year, which ended Sept. 30. Thanks to a vibrant audience and donor base, the company celebrated another successful year, exceeding revenue goals and once again reporting strong growth of the endowment. A comprehensive audit will be completed and published in February of 2019.
OTSL reported a total of $6.4 million in contributed operating support for FY18, achieving 107% of goal for the year. Corporate sponsorship increased by 20% over 2017; OTSL continued to receive competitive grants from major national funders, including The Wallace Foundation, The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, and the National Endowment for the Arts, among other organizations.
1,083 households contributed in 2018 to operating support, the highest number in company history. Opera Theatre has achieved consistent growth in donor households and contributed revenue over the last three years thanks to a generous challenge gift of $300,000 from Alison and John Ferring during this same time period. The Ferrings challenged OTSL to raise $300,000 in new and increased support from 2016-2018; in total, Opera Theatre achieved 283% of this goal with $848,022 from 1,400 gifts ranging from $1 to $25,000.

“La Traviata”Opera Theatre hosted its most successful gala to date in 2018, grossing more than $1.4 million with the leadership of event co-chairs Marsha & Bill Rusnack and Cathy & Jim Berges.  These contributions were motivated by a challenge gift from the Berges Family Foundation and Noémi & Michael Neidorff, who created the $250,000 Berges-Neidorff Challenge to match all new and increased 2018 gala gifts. Fundraising from the gala helped establish the Next Generation Fund, which celebrates Timothy O’Leary’s tenure as general director and will sustain OTSL’s role as an artistic innovator.
These successes, together with Opera Theatre’s invested endowment portfolio totaling more than $35 million as of September 30, 2018, help secure OTSL’s ongoing commitment to fiscal responsibility. With an annual budget of $10.95 million, ticket sales and contributions well outweigh spending.
FY18 also marked another successful box office year with 104% of ticket revenue achieved for a total growth of 6.3% in ticket sales since FY17. Opera Theatre also maintained its national and international reach, with opera-goers from 49 states, 6 Canadian provinces, and 17 countries during the 2018 season; OPERA America’s Opera Conference was also held in St. Louis from June 20-23, welcoming over 700 international opera professionals during the final week of the season. Of ticket buyers, 26% were new to Opera Theatre in 2018. Thanks in large part to innovative programming, community engagement, and OTSL’s Young Friends program, 53% of new ticket buyers were Millennial and Gen X, and over 21% were from racially diverse backgrounds.
World premiere-commissioned opera “An American Soldier” at OTSL.Opera Theatre once again received local, national, and international acclaim for the 2018 season, with journalists from The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, The Financial Times of London, and Europe’s Opera Magazine traveling to St. Louis to cover the festival. Scott Cantrell of The Dallas Morning News stated, “There’s no opera company quite like Opera Theatre of Saint Louis,” and The New York Times lauded the world-premiere performance of Huang Ruo and David Henry Hwang’s two-act opera An American Soldier, praising its “arresting music…subtle colorings, and pummeling intensity.”
“I have such gratitude for the work of my predecessor Timothy O’Leary, Chairman Noémi Neidorff, and the rest of the Opera Theatre board for their extraordinary efforts to build this company. I feel fortunate to join OTSL amid continued financial strength and community support, and I look forward to more great things for Opera Theatre and its work in St. Louis,” said General Director Andrew Jorgensen.
Susan Graham in “Regina”“Opera Theatre’s 2018 season clearly reflected what we’re all about. Opera superstar Susan Graham, who began her illustrious career at OTSL, returned in a riveting performance of Marc Blitzstein’s Regina, and shared her rise to fame with several of our young artists,” said Noémi Neidorff, Chairman of the Opera Theatre of Saint Louis Board. “Our production of An American Soldier was yet another powerful example of the numerous world premieres we commission as we continue to attract opera fans and critics from all parts of the globe.”
Opera Theatre continued to promote artistic excellence with another year of highly competitive auditions for the young artist programs. Out of 1,062 applications, 31 young artists were chosen for the 2019 season. With an acceptance rate of 3%, the program remains one of the most competitive in the US. In addition, many former young artists continue to develop successful international careers, winning top prizes at the Glyndebourne Opera Cup, the Metropolitan Opera National Council Grand Finals, the Richard Tucker Foundation, and Placido Domingo’s Operalia.
“Orfeo and Euridice”Opera Theatre of Saint Louis’s 2019 Festival Season features the world premiere of composer Terence Blanchard and librettist Kasi Lemmons’s Fire Shut Up in My Bones, based on the memoir of New York Times columnist Charles Blow. It also will feature classics from the operatic canon, including Mozart’s The Marriage of Figaro, Verdi’s Rigoletto, and Monteverdi’s The Coronation of Poppea, as well as OTSL’s annual Center Stage Concert, led by Music Director Emeritus Stephen Lord. The season opens on Saturday, May 25, 2019. Subscriptions and single tickets can be purchased online, in person at the Loretto-Hilton Box Office, or by calling (314) 961-0644.

Opera Theatre of Saint Louis announces a series of four community conversations to be presented with partners across the St. Louis community, examining representation and equity in the arts, entertainment, and media. Each panel event will address a different topic, including casting in the performing arts, leadership in film and television, opportunities within the music industry, and the voice of the media.
The panels will feature Opera Theatre artists, prominent St. Louis arts and media professionals, and leading figures with a national perspective on these questions. The series strives to further dialogue in the St. Louis community about equity, making art, and the responsibility to reflect the rich diversity of our community.The first event in the series is presented in partnership with John Burroughs School.
Representation and Responsibility: Perspectives on Equity, Casting, and the Performing Arts
in the 21st Century, will be held on Friday, October 26 at 7 p.m. at the Haertter Performing
Arts Center at John Burroughs School, at 755 S Price Road, St. Louis MO 63124.

The community conversation will be moderated by Adrienne Davis, Vice Provost and William M.
Van Cleve Professor of Law at Washington University, and will include an audience Q&A and a reception with the four panelists:
• Soprano Julia BullockBullock returns to St. Louis in OTSL’s 2019 Festival Season as one of the stars
of the world premiere Fire Shut Up in My Bones. A former member of
OTSL’s Monsanto Artists-in-Training Program, which is now in its 29th year of
providing college level voice lessons to high school students, Ms. Bullock has now
given critically acclaimed performances at Carnegie Hall, the San Francisco Opera,
The Santa Fe Opera, the English National Opera, the Berlin Philharmoniker, and The
Bolshoi.
• Actor and educator Duane Foster
Foster made his Broadway debut in the original cast of Ragtime in 1998 and
enjoyed an extensive national career before returning to St. Louis and his alma mater in
the Normandy School District to revive their drama program and chair the district’s
fine arts program.
• Christina Rios, Artistic Director of R-S Theatrics
Rios’s St. Louis-based theatre company is now in its tenth year of producing St.
Louis premieres of thought-provoking works that demand conversation, offering new
productions of work by such important contemporary voices as Lin-Manuel Miranda,
Rajiv Joseph, and Stephen Adly Guirgis. She serves as casting director for R-S. As a
performer, she has appeared in numerous St. Louis productions, including The
Threepenny Opera, Jerry Springer: The Opera, First Lady Suite, and Into the Woods.
• Opera Theatre General Director Andrew Jorgensen
Mr. Jorgensen assumed leadership of OTSL in July 2018 after most recently serving as
Director of Artistic Operations and acting as Interim Executive Director at the
Washington National Opera at the Kennedy Center. Highlights of his collaborations
with WNO Artistic Director Francesca Zambello include the revised world premiere of
Appomattox, the East Coast premiere of Champion, and the commissioning of six new
chamber-length operas as part of the American Opera Initiative Program.
The discussion will be held at John Burroughs School, 755 S Price Road. The panel will last
approximately 75 minutes, with a casual reception immediately following. Tickets can be
reserved online at www.ExperienceOpera.org, or by calling the Box Office at (314) 961-0644.
During Julia Bullock’s visit to participate in this event, she will also lead masterclasses for
students at Southeastern University Illinois Edwardsville and John Burroughs School, her alma
mater. She also appears in recital at The Sheldon Concert Hall on Wednesday, Oct. 24 at 8
p.m. Tickets to the Sheldon concert are available at www.thesheldon.org.
Subsequent panels in the series will continue through June, 2019, featuring filmmaker and
producer Kasi Lemmons, composer and Grammy Award-winning jazz trumpeter Terence
Blanchard, and New York Times columnist Charles Blow – all members of the creative team
behind “Fire Shut Up in My Bones,” which opens Saturday June 15, 2019 as part of OTSL’s 2019
Festival Season. More information regarding later Representation and Responsibility
discussions will be announced later this fall.
Representation and Responsibility is made possible in part by the Fred M. Saigh Endowment at
Opera Theatre and by the Sally S. Levy Family Fund for New Works, which provides support
for contemporary opera and related community engagement activities. Leadership support comes
from the Whitaker Foundation and The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. Fire Shut Up in My
Bones is supported in part by an award from the National Endowment for the Arts and made
possible by an OPERA America Innovation Grant, supported by the Ann and Gordon Getty
Foundation. Major production support is provided by OPERA America’s Opera Fund.
Audience development programming is made possible by PNC Arts Alive.
About Opera Theatre of Saint Louis
Opera Theatre of Saint Louis is a spring festival featuring casts of the opera world’s most
exciting singers accompanied by the acclaimed St. Louis Symphony Orchestra. Each season,
OTSL presents four inventive new productions in English during the months of May and June. In
addition to presenting innovative interpretation of classics, OTSL is also committed to
premiering new and relevant operas by prominent composers; since its inaugural season in 1976,
27 operas have premiered Opera Theatre.
Opera Theatre’s competitive young artist programs foster the next generation of emerging
American singers; these programs have been a springboard for countless artists to launch
international careers.
Opera Theatre of Saint Louis is funded in part by the Regional Arts Commission, Arts and
Education Council, National Endowment for the Arts, and the Missouri Arts Council, with
audience building programs supported by The Wallace Foundation.
Generous leadership support for the services of the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra is provided
by the Taylor family and the late Jack C. Taylor.